You can but it is not advised. Client’s often believe that administering an estate will be quite simple. It often turns out to be far more complex than anticipated. There are also ever changing legislative requirements to be met. For instance, recent changes to the Trust Act require the estate to advertise prior to making disbursements to beneficiaries. If this procedural step is not followed the executors may be personally liable to anyone who makes a claim against the Will at a later date.
Not necessarily. A property owned by the testator may need to be transferred to the executors prior to being disbursed to the beneficiaries.
There are many instances where the executors can become personally liable to beneficiaries or other entities through the course of improper administration of an estate. For example:
Not conducting a search to ensure a beneficiary is an undischarged bankrupt;
Not advertising as required before making disbursements;
Not insuring tax is appropriately handled on any transfer to a beneficiary who is living overseas;
Not filing a final tax return to properly close out the Tax File Number of the deceased;
Distributing assets of the estate before the appropriate limitation periods without deeds in place with the beneficiaries.
This is a complex question and varies from estate to estate. Put simply your job entails:
1. Locating the will;
2. Assisting in arranging the funeral (make sure if there is a funeral plan in place it is put to good use);
3. Gathering in all the assets of the estate and making sure they are secured (make sure all insurances required a kept in place);
4. Ensuring all the debts are collected;
5. Obtaining probate;
6. Ensuring adequate records are kept reguarding the estate; and
5. Ensuring the assets are distributed in accordence with the will.
This is only a simple summary. Please contact us for further details.